Kindergarten iPads: Differentiated Learning at Its Best
Last month I wrote about Archer Glen fourth graders who are reinvigorating their love of reading with a classroom full of Kindles funded by the Sherwood Education Foundation (SEF).
This month, technology-based learning continues with a peek at Archer Glen kindergarteners who are learning reading and math with SEF-funded iPads. Archer Glen kindergarten teachers Heidi Patterson, Miranda Johnson, and Katie Locke applied for an SEF grant to fund six iPads, to share among their classes. The iPads help the teachers provide more customized, individualized teaching to children at different levels.
“Most of the iPad applications accommodate multiple skill levels so that more advanced kids are challenged while struggling students get help right where they are,” Patterson says. “This kind of differentiated learning is very challenging to deliver with one teacher and 25 kids but is a perfect job for technology.”
Students use the iPads to practice letter writing, letter recognition, and counting. They draw the letter on-screen using a stylus, and the iPad software says the name of the letter and the sound. Another application lets students select characters and a setting and tell a sequential story. Kids record themselves telling the story, and the iPad plays back the story and moves their characters in a mini-movie.
When the teachers launched a unit on the Arctic, they taught their students to use Google Maps so they could find not only the Arctic but the Statue of Liberty, Archer Glen, their houses, and other fun locations. The culminating project was for each student to create a digital book about one Arctic animal. Students downloaded images from Google Images and used an application called Story Creator to build the book. They could even record themselves reading the book. These are kindergartners! Doing digital publishing!
Patterson, Johnson, and Locke did a little research to track the effectiveness of the iPads and came up with the following results: At the outset of the school year, 25 percent of students knew 15 or fewer upper-case letter names, and 66 percent knew fewer than 15 letter sounds. In early January, after using the iPads for three months, both percentages were at a mere 1 percent.
“We’ve not only had significant, measurable results from using this technology, but we’ve had a wonderful response from the students,” says Patterson. “They are very engaged in learning with the iPads.”
And it’s all possible because of the Sherwood Education Foundation. Be part of the exciting possibilities that SEF is enabling in the Sherwood School District. Donate today at sherwoodeducationfoundation.org.